Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Amtrak Adventure-Day One

A high school friend got married in Denver this last weekend, and I really wanted to go. Due to work constraints it had to be a rather fast trip, just four days. I've been wanting to take Amtrak across the mountains for a couple years, so I figured this would be a great opportunity. Our basic itinerary was go to Salt Lake City, get on Amtrak and go eight hours to Glenwood Springs, spend the night there and go six more hours on the train to Denver, then go to the wedding and fly back to Salt Lake City. The journey would be a key part of the vacation, especially because Desert Boy loves trains so much.

We didn't start out too well. Instead of the normal four hour drive to Salt Lake City, it took much longer because Desert Girl was fussy and we did errands and got caught up in city traffic. Eventually we got there and checked into our hotel and managed to swim a little before getting to bed at 11 p.m. The alarm rang all too soon at 3 a.m., and we walked groggily the few blocks to the train station where we found a surprising number of people at the train station.

The train pulled in on time and we boarded, trying to schlep all our stuff without waking up the other passengers.
It started getting light as we climbed up out of Provo, but Desert Boy was still sleeping. I caught sight of a couple of elk watching the train go by and enjoyed watching the scenery.

I was fascinated by how the train tracks were laid. While the highway is relatively straight, the train had to take switchbacks to go up onto the Colorado Plateau.

One really nice surprise on the train was how much leg room you have. The seats were comfortable and there is an electrical outlet at each seat.

Our train was fairly long, with two engines, a baggage car, three sleeping cars, a dining car, an observation car, and three coach cars. We were in the last coach car, so we could see the rest of the train far ahead of us.

Desert Boy was still napping. The train doesn't have seat belts, but the car seat was still handy so he had a more comfortable place to sleep and so he could sit up higher and see out the window better.

In a little while he woke up and we decided to eat breakfast in the dining car. It tasted good and gave me energy.

Just before breakfast the train stopped at Helper, Utah. We couldn't really see much of the town from the tracks. Then we traveled southeast towards Green River. Part of the time we were away from roads, and that was my favorite.

The beautiful rocks of eastern Utah rose in the distance.

I recognized this huge anticline from trips along the interstate. This is the east slope of the San Rafael Reef.

The erosional patterns on the other side of the train were also spectacular.

Desert Boy had a backpack full of activities to help keep him amused, but most of the time he was content to look out the window.

I was in awe of the views. It was really nice to be able to look as much as I wanted to and not worry about driving.

One of the unexpected benefits of traveling in early June were all the wildflowers that lit up the scenery. We saw lots of globemallow and some little yellow flower in the Mustard family.

Emma also took plenty of naps. She really liked not being confined to her car seat, and the train ride was quite smooth, but with a little rolling movement that she found quite comforting.

Some more great desert scenery. I saw so many places I'd like to go back and visit again.

My hair was a little wild. But most of the people in coach class had spent the night on the train so had even stranger 'dos than me. Some brought their own sleeping bags and pillows--I guess they had traveled coach on the train before and knew how to make the ride the most comfortable.

This is Emma on a baggage rack. She was quite a good traveler on the train.

We met up with the Colorado River shortly after passing the stateline. It was flowing swiftly and high, and we saw many shrubs and trees on the edges submerged.

Grand Junction was a fairly long stop, and anyone who wanted to get off could wander a bit. All the smokers piled off immediately, as there is no smoking on the train. We wandered around a bit and then went into a small store.

It was quite warm.

Then we heard the "All Aboard" and got back on. We went into the observation car for a change of scenery and shared a table with some other travelers.

Near Grand Junction there are many orchards and vineyards. I think they said there are several wineries in the area, too.

Sometimes we were next to the Interstate, but sometimes it went through tunnels while we followed the river.

We got a Colorado map so we could follow our progress better.

And then it was time for another snooze. It was great to be able to get up and wander around when we wanted, but then go back to our seats for some quiet time.

We saw evidence of forest fires and the excellent regrowth.

And then we were at Glenwood Springs. It really didn't seem like it had taken very long to get there.

To be continued...

6 comments:

Sheila said...

I LOVE this post! Beautiful pictures, and brings back fond memories of riding the Amtrak to/from Louisiana to visit relatives when I was a little kid!

g said...

I think that the grand Junction to Denver route is one of the most scenic in the country. I'm so glad that Desert Boy got to take this trip. You too!

maucotel said...

Very cool! I'm glad you came through my home town too (Provo). Great pics.

G. Robison said...

Amtrak is a lot of fun. I took a 24-hr trip several years ago from Trinidad, CO to Los Angeles - I was a little rummy by the end, like I'd been on a plane the whole time, but the scenery was lovely and the food was great. I had a little bedroom unit and slept fairly well.

I wish it were a bit cheaper on long trips with the bed - I'd go by train more often.

A said...

What an amazing trip! We are trying to work out some train part on our Canada journey this summer...Kevin will drive while the kids and I relax on the train!

Jasper County Historical Society said...

Thank you for the photos of the trip and the photos of your children. Both are spectacular. Waiting for more.
JK

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